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John Simpson (1) (1944–)

Teoksen A Mad World, My Masters: Tales from a Traveller's Life tekijä

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About the Author

John Simpson is widely regarded as one of our foremost commentators. Now, after almost forty years of groundbreaking journalism, he turns his piercing eye for a story to his own profession, revealing what really happened behind the headlines and asking some searching questions of his own industry.


Tekijän teokset

The Oxford Book of Exile (1995) 35 kappaletta
Despatches from the Barricades (1990) 28 kappaletta

Associated Works

Merkitty avainsanalla




John Simpson is one of those BBC news men who seems to have been around forever, and according to this book of his he has. He started at the BBC in 1966 in the radio news room, and after a short while, started to climb the ladder within the news room.

Following on from the radio, he made it into TV, and was sent to Ireland just as the troubles were starting. He seems to have managed to end up at the right place at the wrong time pretty consistently through his career, and the images and reports that appeared on our screens from South Africa, Israel, Germany, China and Afghanistan have been part of the reporting that has made the BBC what it is today as a source of reputable global news.

I enjoyed reading about Simpson, as like most I had seen and heard his reports over many years. To get a lot of the background and his feelings and thoughts and opinions on significant world events that he was there makes this a worthwhile volume to read.
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PDCRead | 1 muu arvostelu | Apr 6, 2020 |
The plot here is nothing new - our hero journalist does not believe the official report of his friend’s death and determines to find the truth. This leads him to dirty dealings in Russia and lots of conspiracy, double-dealing and jeopardy.

The book is strongly plotted, well-written and drives with enough force to pull the reader in and make you want to turn just one more page.

The real strength of the book come from its provenance. The author, John Simpson, is a senior member of the BBC News organisation and is very well known to many readers. The hero, Jon Swift, is clearly modelled on himself - the physical description matches Simpson exactly and he has a similar background in international news and television reporting. The book is narrated by Jon Swift and the voice is very clearly that of Simpson, in fact, reading the book it is difficult not to hear the whole thing in your head as a report by Simpson on the Ten O’Clock News.

This is an excellent example of how writing what you know brings believability and truth to the story. This reds like it could be reportage rather than fiction.
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pierthinker | 1 muu arvostelu | Jan 20, 2020 |
I was very disappointed with this novel. I have admired John Simpson as one of the BBC’s leading foreign news correspondents for many years, so my expectations were all for a well written topical thriller, bristling with acute insights. Somehow, despite an intriguing opening, it never quite came to fruition.

Veteran journalist Jon Swift is called to attend the scene of death of Patrick Macready, a prominent backbench Conservative MPO who appears to have succumbed to a misjudged attempt at autoeroticism. Swift is shocked as Macready had been one of his closest friends. The circumstances of the death appal him, seeming entirely at odds with the man whom he knew. Shortly after the death, Swift comes into possession of Macready’s iPad, which contains details of certain investigations he had been following. Swift becomes increasingly convinced that the bizarre death was actually a murder, arranged to stop Macready’s research while publicly discrediting him.

So far, so good, but a potentially strong plot scenario was smothered by unexpectedly turgid writing. Swift himself is a particularly unpleasant character, and the book might have been more enjoyable if it had been him who was found dead at the beginning. Given that he was the narrator, it would all have been over a lot more quickly, too.
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Eyejaybee | 1 muu arvostelu | Oct 26, 2018 |
I made it almost to the end of this lengthy auto-biographical second volume. I haven't read the first volume which probably didn't help. I thought it might be interesting and add to my knowledge of current affairs. I have often seen the author reporting for the BBC, usually from some war zone or other. Unfortunately, this account spans his entire career most of which dates back to before my time. I was hoping to read details of more recent events.

Simpson highlights an increasing apathy especially amongst Westerners towards events abroad. He wants to educate and inform people and refuse to allow them to bury their heads in the sand. I agree with his goal and believe that we should all try to stay abreast of world news--as Christians, how can we pray effectively unless we know what is going on!?

"What's the problem about wanting to know more, rather than less, about what is going on? That, surely, is what we should all want. Slowly, as I go through the letters, I understand that what these people dislike is the reminder that under NATO's bombs there were ordinary men and women like themselves. They would much rather not know; they wanted to believe that every bomb reaches its target, that every casualty is someone who deserves it. Well, I'm here to tell you it ain't true. Sorry"

I didn't warm to the author's style. Each chapter has been given a generic title, for example, "Icons" or "Dictators." There are then mini stories within each chapter that obviously relate to the heading. It has the effect of making the stories extremely short--I would rather have learned more detail and stuck with far less subjects. The stories themselves are hit and miss--some were very interesting--Princess Diana and some of the villains...yet others seemed repetitive or just to have been included because they matched the title rather than because they contained any interesting material. I was totally lost in some chapters and didn't have a clue what the author was talking about. This book definitely could have had a better content edit and been shortened somewhat.

There is some bad language in the book including some very strong language. There are sex references although nothing graphic up to the point I reached. There is a lot of violence due to the author reporting from various war zones.

There is a touch of a "hero" complex throughout. Simpson is always the one who stays in the danger zone or tackles the government or defends various values etc. Some might say that he is entitled to this due to his lengthy journalistic service. But, it doesn't do him any favours as a little humility would definitely have made the book more readable (and believable.)

Having faced death day in and day out, I wonder what the author will do in retirement or how he will sum up his life achievements.

"No I thought; dying is important and significant and special. It can't happen somewhere as ordinary as this. Not to me."

God was gracious and didn't choose to take Simpson at that point, but when He does, he will stand before God and be asked to give an account of his life. I hope by the time Simpson gets to this point, he has found true hope that isn't found in placing oneself in dangerous situations to feed information to the public, or in maintaining neutrality in news reporting or even in adventures at home and abroad. I hope that he realises that his death will only be important, significant and special if he has had his sins forgiven and is adequately prepared to face God.

Those interested in world events dating back to the 1960's might want to read this.
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sparkleandchico | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 2, 2017 |

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